SALEM, Ore. — With coronavirus cases continuing to surge in Oregon and around the country, Gov. Kate Brown called a press conference on Friday to announce a two-week "freeze" statewide in an attempt to curb the alarming trend.
Brown and state health officials had already implemented a two-week pause on certain activities in nine counties with particularly high case rates, which began on Wednesday.
“Whether we like it or not, we're about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic,” Brown said. “If we want to give Oregonians a fighting chance, must take further measures to flatten the curve.”
Hospital officials joined Brown on a call earlier this week, warning of dwindling hospital capacity as both cases and hospitalizations increase rapidly.
KEZI 9 News talked to Dr. Esther Choo with Oregon Health & Science University.
“Many of you cheered and rang bells and put up signs calling us heroes,” Choo said. "And we're so grateful for that. Right now, we're asking you to be our heroes and to listen to our call for help. Again, we have the opportunity now to save hundreds or thousands of Oregon families from any more of these painful last good byes.”
The two-week freeze measures are set to begin next Wednesday, Nov. 18, and last through Dec. 2. They are far more wide-reaching than the pause measures already in place, actually closing or limiting many types of businesses.
"These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care," the Governor's office said in a preliminary statement.
According to the Governor's office, the freeze measures include all of the following:
- Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
- Limiting faith based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
- Limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only.
- Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
- Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
- Closing outdoor recreational facilities, zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
- Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
- Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
- Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
- Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
- Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities.
The freeze carves out a space for some businesses and services to continue as they have been under Oregon Health Authority guidance, providing exceptions for personal services such as barber shops, hair salons, and non-medical massage therapy; congregate homeless shelters; outdoor recreation and sports; youth programs, childcare, and K-12 schools.
On Friday morning, Brown joined with the governors of Washington and California to issue a travel advisory along the West Coast, urging people to avoid non-essential travel and self-quarantine for 14 days if traveling out-of-state.